Boston College takes social impact seriously. At the Robert J. Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences — the college’s oldest and largest division — students turn their passion into action by earning a qualification from an institution that cares as much as they do.
Here, galvanised by its mission to address the world’s most urgent problems, its researchers today are formulating tomorrow’s solutions. Across disciplines and degree levels, they examine the complex problems of our contemporary world, propose new solutions and new ways of thinking about religion and culture, science and technology, art and education, business and ethics.
“We help our students to develop the critical and analytical skills, [as well as the] capacity to communicate effectively and broad intellectual foundation that they will need for a lifetime of learning and growth in a rapidly changing world,” explains dean Gregory Kalscheur, S.J.
“In the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences, we strive to prepare our students for both the rigorous and dynamic search for truth, wherever that search may lead, and for the ongoing formation of their minds, hearts, and imaginations for lives of freedom and integrity oriented toward service of the common good.”
To facilitate these discoveries, the college offers doctoral programmes in Biology; Chemistry; Earth and Environmental Sciences; Economics; English; History; Mathematics; Philosophy; Physics; Political Science; Psychology; Sociology; and Theology.
Through Graduate Fellowships, students are given the chance to work with renowned faculty members on research with practical application. They will have access to some of the most prestigious funding opportunities in the country. There are also opportunities to acquire financial support and mentorship for project leadership –– from design through publication.
Regardless of the path an aspiring researcher chooses –– upon their search for answers, what they find will always be profound. After all, the college is a powerhouse in actively conducting research that betters communities, the nation, and the world.
Researchers that lead by example and inspire excellence
At Boston College, men and women who want to shape the world with vision, justice and charity have plenty of role models to emulate. From psychology to economics, faculty members here exemplify some of this generation’s finest independent thinkers and changemakers addressing the challenges of contemporary life. Their research often focuses on nationally and internationally significant issues — they advance insight and understanding, enrich culture, and address pressing social needs.
Assistant professor of psychology Katherine McAuliffe is currently leading a study on the wage gap women face in the workforce. The first of its kind, the study also identified a gender gap in negotiation among children.
“One thing this tells us is that we should be teaching young girls to advocate for themselves in the context of negotiation from as early as elementary school,” she shares. Her work focuses on the development and evolution of cooperation and her primary research investigates how children develop an understanding of the norms governing cooperation and a willingness to enforce them.
She was recently selected for the Human Behaviour & Evolution Society (HBES) Early Career Award, which according to HBES, “recognises excellent young scientists who have made distinguished theoretical and/or empirical contributions to the study of evolution and human behaviour.”
Economists Tayfun Sönmez and Utku Ünver have been working to ensure that policy makers distribute the coronavirus vaccines equitably across all population groups — including the most disadvantaged communities. Their initiative to better vaccine allocation is just the latest in a series of projects aimed to pair resources with recipients during the pandemic.
Sönmez, and fellow Professor of Economics Bumin Yenmez also worked on a joint paper with MIT economist Parag Pathak –– developing a new mechanism to equitably distribute ventilators and proposed therapeutics.
Assistant Professor of Physics, Brian Zhou, will spearhead the project “Imaging Light-Matter Interactions in Quantum Materials with Nanoscale Quantum Sensors.” With his team, Zhao will spatially image the flow of photocurrents inside materials and determine how nanoscale variations affect their generation and transport. The National Science Foundation (NSF) heavily supports his efforts, granting Zhao a CAREER Award that entails a five-year grant of US$567,000.
Zhou has also received a three-year US$345,000 award from the NSF’s Directorate of Engineering for his research to develop a quantum-based platform for characterising nanoscale magnetic materials.
Across these discoveries, accomplishments, and initiatives, all Boston College faculty members work tirelessly toward the same goal: to inspire more individuals to engage in world-changing research.
“We are excited about Brian’s research at the interface between quantum and device engineering, as well as the educational opportunities he will provide our students,” enthuses Professor of Physics and Department Chair Michael J. Graf. “These awards are a recognition of both the scientific innovation of Brian’s group and the commitment of our department to fundamental research directed towards impactful future technologies.”